Out of control border guards
lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Feb 25 13:03:29 MST 2002
Counterpunch, February 25, 2002
Interrogation at the US Border
By John Clarke
My name is John Clarke and I am an Organizer with the Ontario Coalition
Against Poverty (OCAP). In the early afternoon of February 19th, 2002, I
crossed the international bridge between Sarnia, Ontario and Port Huron,
Michigan. I was on my way to a speaking engagement that had been set up by
students at Michigan State University.
When I pulled up my car at the customs booth, the officer asked where I was
bound and I told him. He wanted to know on what basis I was asked to speak
and whether I would be paid. I replied that I was with OCAP and that I had
been told by the organizers of the meeting that an honourarium would be
provided as was normal. The officer was concerned that this meant I was
coming into the US to work. Of course, people on both sides of the border
accept speaking invitations all the time on this basis and the issue of a
work permit is never raised. At this point, the matter was nothing that
could not have been rapidly cleared up if I had been on my way to address a
business seminar or deliver a lecture on self awareness.
Then came the most astounding part of the whole interrogation. Out of the
blue, Seitz demanded to know where Osama Bin Laden was hiding. I knew were
he was, he insisted. If I grew a beard I would look like Bin Laden. I was
holding back on telling him why I was going to the university and who I was
going to meet there. If I didn't want to go to jail, it was time to tell
him the real story. I replied that I had been quite open with him about my
intentions and that sending me to jail was now up to him. He laughed, told
me there were no problems. I could go home after all. Did I drink tea of
coffee? Would I have a coffee with him if he came up to Toronto. I told him
I would, which was the only lie I told that day, and he gathered up his
files and left.
Shortly after this, the local officials gave me the free ticket for the
bridge which is the only perk that comes along with being denied entry to
the US and, a little over five hours after coming over, I headed back to
the Canadian side.
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